Aljamain Sterling has a message for all his detractors: shut up.
Last Saturday, Sterling successfully defended his bantamweight title by defeating Petr Yan in their rematch at UFC 273. The victory was particularly sweet for the champion, who has spent the last year being excoriated by many many fans for winning the title by disqualification in his first fight with Yan at UFC 259.
Now, without the specter of DQ controversy hanging over this title win, “The Funk Master” is relishing his “told ya so” moment.
“It’s awesome,” Sterling told Ariel Helwani on MMA hour. “It feels good to know that everything I’ve said since the first time we fought, that I was absolutely right. What I said, the reason I had a rest night is how i felt and i was not bulls********.
“People can say that’s a dumb excuse, and it is. I know that’s a stupid excuse, I know it sounds stupid to say it out loud, but it’s the truth and that’s what happened. And I feel like if I was ready and didn’t have that hiccup, I finished Petr Yan in that first meeting we had. Because that version of himself wasn’t as good as the guy I fought at UFC 273. This Petr Yan was way better, had way more discipline when it came to his defense, and I felt like he was just better, and felt like I comfortably won, again. Two rounds 10-8, I feel like I should have had two rounds 10-8. I don’t know how you get four minutes of control time, ground and pound attempts and submission, and it doesn’t meet the criteria they implemented for 10-8 rounds.
“I’m just happy. I’m happy that I got to prove my team right, to prove myself right, and to stick it out in Vegas and let those guys suck it. And that’s really people want to be mean and talk about your family, talk about stuff, call me a monkey, drop the n-bomb, a whole load of bullshit. I’ve been dealing with a lot of stuff, and that’s a good one. thing that I have thick skin, because that probably would have broken a lot of people, but not this guy. This guy came prepared, ready for battle, and I came ready to win.
Although Sterling argued that he deserved at least a 10-8 round in the fight, none of the event judges awarded him one. In the end, it didn’t matter, as Sterling always swept the first three rounds on two judges’ scorecards. And according to the champ, it was only so close because he eased off in rounds four and five.
“Once I got that I was like, I got three rounds, if I want to take the next two rounds off, I can,” Sterling said. “And honestly, that’s kind of what happened. … If I had wanted to get up in the fourth round, I could have got up. But I started playing jiu-jitsu, and honestly, that’s one of the things I do way too much in the gym. I’m so comfortable submitting guys on my back and looking for scrambles – he was down three rounds, and I think he knew he had to pocket one, so for me to hang around, I accepted this position. If I had wanted to get up, I could have. …I could have gotten up and not even given him a chance to score a round in that fight, and I gave that round and he started to build momentum…that’s what it is. I fought a great fight, I think I fought a smart fight. I gave away two rounds that I could have easily fought very, very differently, or fought the same [as the first three rounds], because the gas tank was not a problem. But regardless, it was a fun fight, people were excited because they thought there would be times to “get me”, and that is what it is. I shut down everyone the funk. I am the only undisputed king in this bantamweight division right now. “
But while that victory was more definitive than Sterling and Yan’s original title fight at UFC 259, that doesn’t mean it went entirely without controversy. After the fight, Yan argued that he should have won, a claim that has been echoed by some in the MMA community, including UFC president Dana White and former UFC referee turned commentator. Bellator John McCarthy.
The pivotal round in question for the fight is the opening stanza, where Sterling beat Yan 19-13 in key strikes, but Yan was the one to come forward. Sterling argues that the scoring criteria here are crystal clear and anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
“Come on! Can you both throw less than 20 strikes, one guy throw 5-7 fewer strikes, waiting to see if you count some of those shoulder-grazes, like a win?” Sterling said. How can you win by stepping forward with a mean face and throwing 5-7 less punches than the opposing guy, because you’re stepping forward and practicing with the footwork.How does that win you a round? People can say aggression all they want – aggression ain’t shit if you don’t interrupt me and punch and do whatever you want. and you’re doing what I want you to do, which is chase me down and get shot and take clean shots, then I don’t know what to tell you. You don’t know how to score a fight.
“The rule book, under the criteria, you score damage, an efficient hit, and my hit was more efficient and I controlled and dictated where the fight was for that whole round. So I think it’s pretty black and white. And let’s not even talk about the elbow I hit his head with that caused him to stumble backwards, that was the most important strike this round. So people who say theft, what is a theft? I don’t even know what stealing is anymore. …It’s all a steal because your guy didn’t win the round.
“There’s absolutely no way to score this round – John McCarthy’s big stupid voice. Man, go get a clue. I don’t know how this guy could become the standard role model in MMA, because this guy is His opinion stinks and it sucks. He just talks shit, and I think he just wants people to think he knows what he’s talking about. I think he had an MMA school, I think that he had fighters which one of them ever did something what his school did ’cause it’s clear this guy is so great so what did he do never accomplished, other than trying to judge people and getting the fight’s rating criteria completely wrong.
“If you want an opinion, have an opinion, John. That’s OK, but that doesn’t mean you’re right, because you’re not following the criteria for how you score a fight. So please be quiet and let the big boys do what they do at a high level, something you’ve never been able to accomplish. Relax there, buddy.